Fear Grows: Zedd Bought the Farm

Originally published in the September 1983 C&E.

Horror and consternation mounted around the world this week as silence continued to surround the whereabouts and fate of the magnificent Q. R. Zedd and his party of DXers in (or somewhere near) Vietnam. President Reagan personally wired the premier of Vietnam weeks ago, pleading for word in the interests of humanity and DXers exerywhere.” Vietnamese officials expressed what seemed to be sincere worry, but kept mum, and also arrid. Zedd flew to Vietnam to activate XV in late June, attended a number of official functions, prepared his equipment, and vanished with his companions into the jungle near the Cambodian border on or about August 3. With him were Bill Buckeye, Columbus, Ohio, DXer who recently claimed a world record by getting someone to talk to him while he had Woody Hayes in the shack; Boris Badenov, famed Russian DXer who claims to have worked Long Delayed Echoes from Marconi; Bill Blast of the great Blast Off DX Net, and Mrs. Constance Wilhelmina Zedd, Q. R.’s momma. It was reported by United Press International that pirates from Cambodia swarmed across the Vietnamese border near the spot slated for the Zedd expedition about six hours after Zedd & Co. should have pitched their camp. In a confusing series of events, Vietnamese regulars stormed the area and there was a firefight with Chinese troops across that nearby border. To make matters worse, there was a solar flare at 1705Z on the same date, rendering HF communications all but inoperable for several hours. A team from the international Red Cross visited the remote jungle valley, site of the DXpedition camp, four days later. They reported a pitiful sight. The ground was cratered and the trees burned to the ground. Shreds of plastic from tents were found, along with approximately 400 Coors beer cans (all empty) and several empty Twinkie crates. Officials took these clues as a sure sign that Badenov, known worldwide for his epicurean tastes, had been present. Officials from all involved countries exchanged apologies and mortar fire over the incident. The ARRL announced plans in Newington for a rescue expedition, but said it would take about two years to get it organized. A one-man team from 73 Magazine visited the scene a week later, and W2NSD/1 reported that the humidity made his Casio wristwatch stop. He wrote 3,200 words about this phenomenon. In Washington, the FCC announced not to worry, its new no-code license plan would soon make the bands so crowded that DXing would be impossible anyway. The Social Security administration stopped sending payments to Momma Zedd’s house in Mena, Ark. Members of Zedd’s home radio club, the South Canadian Amateur Radio Society, set up around-the-clock vigils on all bands, all modes, all frequencies at the club station in Norman. It did not work out very well. Nobody showed up. A prominent Norman physician, Dr. Waldo Garp, speculated that the DX group could have ‘escaped the terrific bombardment in the area, but noted that no one in the party had had recent malaria or typhus shots, and the beer must have run out ages ago. He said that even well-conditioned radio athletes such as those in the expedition could not be expected to last forever without food, water, and regular exposure to RF. Newsweek reported that a helicopter _search was under way over a broad area. TIME

magazine plunged the local amateur radio into profound gloom by running Zedd’s obituary in its issue of August 20. They misspelled his name. At the ranch, Tondelayo Schwartz, Zedd’s nubile, blonde, 20-year-old QSL secretary and erstwhile bride, went into seclusion with two OU football players of her choice. The friend of Badenov, Natasha Buliwinkle, was seen on Norman’s main street wearing a black see-through mourning shroud and a grocery bag filled to overflowing with DingDongs. That Natasha should have changed from yellow (Twinkies) to black (DingDongs) was considered a bad omen by the community. A member of SCARS, identifying himself as the club reporter, asked Natasha about it. She stuck him with her knife. “I can’t believe he might be dead,” said K5KDR, president of SCARS. “He was a great former Martian,” commented EC AF5X. “If he’s really dead, I want a road map showing me how to get to the ranch,” W5SQJ commented. “I heard he has a great station and I want to be the one to junk it out.” Hope generally was not lost, however, and the bands were filled with hopeful amateurs calling his name: Qn?. Meanwhile, in Southeast Asia, the rainy season was approaching. The world, as they say, watched and waited. Could the greatest, truest, finest, DXer ever lived really be gone, taking Badenov, Blast, Buckeye and Momma with him? Could sate deal us such a blow? The vigil continued at press time.

— KU5B